A type of small cat
, very closely related to civet
s. As most genets are solitary and nocturnal
and many are arboreal
, many species
have not been well-studied. Genets are found in parts of Africa
, the Middle East
and southern Europe
. Most genets are short-legged and have long rows of spots parallel to their long, lean bodies.
These little carnivores were popular pets in Medieval Europe, kept as mousers, especially by the Spanish Moors. In the wild, they eat small mammals, birds and invertebrates as well as a fair amount of fruits, berries and plant material.
Like many of their close relatives, genets have scent glands which allow them to scent-mark their territory. Since most of these animals are fairly solitary, this form of communication is vital to their mating and social relations with other genets.
Genets share the Family Viverridae with true civets and linsangs. They are closely related to mongooses and mustalids, such as badgers, ferrets and wolverines.
TYPES OF GENETS
There are about eleven species of genets with several subspecies. Some of the better-studied species are detailed below:
Aquatic Genet (Fishing Genet) Osbornictis piscivora–native to the rainforests of Northern Zaire, these small (about 3 pound) animals are reddish to brownish and have no distinctive spots or strips, save for light spots between the eyes. Despite the name, the aquatic genet does not swim well, but catches small fishes and frogs by tapping its paw on the surface of the water, then uses its whiskers to detect the movements of fishes, then dives in to catch them.
Common Genet Genetta genetta–found in northern Africa, southern and western Europe and the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. Light fur with dark spots, rings on tail, dark muzzle and light areas around eyes. There are about seven subspecies of the common genet, although the exact subspecies are somewhat in dispute.
Feline Genet Genetta felina–habitat is Sub-Saharan Africa and the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula. They are light grey or brownish with rows of dark spots, ringed tail and a crest of longer fur along the backbone.
Forest Genet Genetta maculata–native to southern Africa, these animals have longer legs than other genets. Very heavily spotted with dark spots on light coat, similar to the common genet. Slight rings on the tail.
Large Spotted Genet/Tigrine Genet Genetta tigrina–a long and thin genet with very short legs. The large spotted genet which is found in Sub-Saharan Africa. They are spotted, with a black stripe on spine and ringed tail.
Servaline Genet Genetta victoriae–native to Uganda and northern Zaire, this is sometimes called the 'giant' genet, because of its relatively large (up to about eight pounds) size. Light to dark brown coat with heavy spotting.
Angolan Genet Genetta angolensis–a small, thin creature with greyish to reddish fur, 3 lines of dark spots and a bushy ringed tail. As the name indicates, this animal is native to southern central Africa.
Abysinnian Genet Genetta abyssinica–native to a very small area in the highlands of Ethiopia. A very light grey genet with black horizontal stripes and spots.
THREATS TO GENETS
Many, if not all, of these species and subspecies are threatened. Habitat destruction has played a large role in wiping out some genet territory, and certain types have been destroyed as pests, as they feed on domestic poultry. These animals have such small ranges and, being shy creatures, populations are hard to assess. It is difficult to say to what extent a given population of genets is threatened.
America Zoo Online -http://www.americazoo.com/goto/index/mammals/
Bridges, William, “Wild Animals of the World” (Garden City Books, Garden City, NY, 1948)
Bateman, Graham, ed., "All the World's Animals; Carnivores" (Equinox, Oxford, 1984).
Lioncrusher's Domain online www.lioncrusher.com
Cat Trust: Complete List of The Viverridae: http://members.aol.com/cattrust/civet.htm